Latasha and Nola had finally met. Bryant and been singing Nola’s praises. Latasha had said she wanted to meet Nola. So Nola had come to Owen’s house before she took Bryant off to show him what he should look for as he did landscaping maintenance. Latasha had taken Nola outside to the fountain and they had had a long private talk.
Latasha started the conversation, “I hear that you are teaching my grandson about landscaping.”
“Yes ma’am. He is a natural and smart. I brought some of my gardening books for him to look through. It won’t be long before he begins to have his own ideas. I hope he thinks about biology as a major in college. I hear from Owen that his grades are good enough to qualify him for TOPS.”
“Is that what you studied in school?”
“No. I studied science but it was geology, rocks and rivers and erosion… I always wanted to know how everything worked.”
“So is landscaping and geology your job?”
“No ma’am. I work at a refinery in
making sure that the way the stuff is built is properly documented and safe and
that OSHA and EPA are happy.”
“Sounds like a strange job for a scientist.”
“Well I’ve had lots of jobs.”
“Sure, waiting tables at the Café du Monde to pay for
college at UNO, washing dogs and cats at a vet's office, working in a ship yard
on tugboat records, being a maid in the
“You were a maid?”
“Yes ma’am. They were strict about the quality of the work. We were inspected regularly. A hair on the sink or tub and you had to go back and do it again. I’m a quick learner; that only had to happen once. And each day we did a superclean of one of the rooms: windows, moving the bed to vacuum, wiping all of the baseboards... But I actually liked being able to stand back after the room was cleaned. It’s kind of like painting a room. It feels good to know you did it and you did a good job.”
Latasha wasn’t finished, “Bryant says you live uptown.”
“Well not really uptown, definitely not the Garden District.
I live in
the part that got flooded, just off Earhart. But I grew up in the 9th
ward between Holy Cross and Jackson Barracks.
My mom lived there until Katrina blew her out.” Carrollton
And Latasha patted her hand. “Katrina was sure hard on a lot of people. We were lucky.”
Nola smiled and thought about how lucky Bryant was to have Latasha in his life. “I wish my mom still lived on this side of the lake. My daughter doesn’t get to see her as often as she used to.”
“How old is your daughter?”
“12 going on 21.”
Latasha laughed. “Yep I know what you mean. She probably doesn’t miss her grandmother as much as you think she does.”
Nola laughed, “You’re probably right. She doesn’t seem to need me as much as she used to. But there are still times when she wants to tell me everything and talk and talk.”
Latasha smiled, “Bryant has been talking about you. And Owen is different, happier, since he met you. I wanted to see for myself.”
Nola had figured that she was being evaluated and asked,
“Well did I pass inspection?”
Latasha laughed and squeezed Nola’s hand. “You did just fine.”
Bryant and Owen had been watching from behind the curtains in the living room window and relaxed when they saw that. Nola and Latasha had talked for a good while longer. And then Latasha had said, “Well I think those boys are probably getting restless watching from behind that curtain. We’d better let you and Bryant get going. I hope to see you again and soon.”
And Nola had squeezed Latasha’s hand. “I’d like that a lot.”
Owen had been doing exactly what Nola asked. He had been reading and thinking about Summer Solstice. He had also ordered the 5 DVD set of What the Bleep. Thinking wryly as he did that at least that’s 5 hours I know we’ll spend together. He had the balsa wood stick she had asked him to get and had tested the stick to ensure he could break it. Elements of this ritual were going to test him. And he smiled thinking that he much preferred the Full Moon rituals.
He heard Nola pulled into the driveway and he met her at the kitchen door. She had a strange bouquet of what looked like weeds and a cloth bag.
“What is that woman?”
Our sorghum stand-in. They’re essentially weeds from the side of the highway. I need to attach them to the stick you got for us.” She said hoping he had remembered because she had forgotten to remind him.
“Right here, woman, don’t look worried.”
“Thank you.” She smiled, thinking he had no idea how often something simple like this didn’t happen in her life. She took it from him and used the rubber band to attach it to the stick. “I know it’s not pretty but it will work for the symbolism we need. Thank you so much for taking care of that.”
He smiled. A stick? A stick and she was grateful?
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because I think you are a strange and wonderful woman.”
She raised her eyebrows and wasn’t quite sure what to say to that.
He smiled and said, “Wow, speechless. I’ll have to try that more often.”
She still didn’t know what to say to that, so she just shrugged and managed a smile.
“Everything else is set up downstairs like you asked. Want to take a look?”
“Ok.” And she followed him into the living room carrying the cloth bag and the sorghum stick. When she saw the altar she said, “Thank you for bringing that table downstairs. I’m glad you made it down the steps safely.”
He listened to her and realized that she had really been concerned and was truly grateful. It seemed she rarely took anything for granted. As she kneeled down to the altar she said, “and thank you for setting the altar.” and then took out a bottle and a silverplated pitcher and a small cauldron. She set her small offering bundle under the edge of the altar cloth and tucked her wrap under there as well. Then she set the small cauldron at the south quadrant. As she looked up she said, “I guess we have every thing we need. I’ll get out of my street clothes and we can start. Ok?”
He said, “Ok” and remembered his offering was in his office.
She smiled and slipped into the downstairs bathroom with, “Meet you in the living room.”
She smiled at him from the altar and got up as he entered the room. And again he wondered how she managed to get dressed and undressed so fast.
“Will you cast?”
He nodded, “Sure.”
Owen cast the circle. Then Nola read, “We gather now on this sacred night of Summer’s Eve and join ourselves to the powers and forces of this mystical season…”
Nola moved the God & Goddess statues to south quadrant next to the cauldron. The stone fossil icons stayed on the altar. They did the rite of union and then Nola placed her offering into the cauldron and Owen did the same. Neither of them realizing that they had both offered their services to the gods to change the way landscaping was done so that more people would be encourage to work with nature instead of battling it with lawnmowers and technology.
Nola took her wrap from under the altar and tied it around her neck. Owen grabbed his shorts off the chair and slipped into them as Nola shook the libation fluid and then poured it into the pitcher. She smiled at him and he led the way. They went out the back door and to the far forested wall and Nola poured the fluid saying “Spirits of the Elemental forces, receive our blessings.” She turned to Owen and took his hand and he led them to the east side of his property and the garden along the driveway. Nola poured the fluid saying “Spirits of the Elemental forces, receive our blessings.” He held out his hand to her and she took it as she stepped from the garden and they went to the center of the front yard. Nola poured the fluid saying “Spirits of the Elemental forces, receive our blessings.” He held out his hand to her and she took it as she stepped from the garden and then he led the way past the fountain and through the side gate to the redbud garden. Nola poured the remainder of the fluid saying “Spirits of the Elemental forces, receive our blessings.” And as she turned to him he took her hand and then pulled her into a gentle kiss thinking that she had poured libation over exactly where he had planted the pouch from the Spring Equinox. When he released her she wondered if he even thought about how physical he was with her or if this was just his way with every woman. She was afraid it wasn’t. They returned through the same door and stepped out of their clothes before returning to the altar in the living room.
Nola read from the altar, “O spirits of the Elemental forces, hear me. And receive our blessings. O spirits of the earth. O powers that be, hear me and receive our blessings. Assist us on this sacred night to maintain the natural balance which keeps vital the essence of the earth. Let there always be clear flowing water, freshness in the air, fertility within the soil and abundant life within the world.”
As the words washed over Owen he realized that this was a prayer that should be repeated at more than just the summer solstice. What he didn’t realize was that Nola thought so too and often used it over her gardening endeavors. Then it came to him that fighting for what the prayer asked was definitely a worthy endeavor.
He reached for Nola’s wand and she picked up the sorghum stalk and took a defensive position in the east. Owen’s demeanor had changed. He actually looked threatening. She resisted a smile and moved from defense to offense as he moved to the east and attacked him with the sorghum. He retaliated and she began moving slowly around the circle. She would put the sorghum stick up and he would lean over and strike the stick lightly with the wand. He made it look like he was swinging hard and then he would pull back at the last minute. The energy of battle without hard blows built up the tension. When the got to the north Nola charged one last time and Owen surprised her with a growl as he raised the wand and she recoiled instinctively. He grabbed her around the waist and the stick from her hand. He kissed her hard before he released her and she felt like she had been dropped. He placed the fennel wand on the altar and then broke the stick and dropped it at the north quadrant as if he were offering it to the Gods. She was still recovering from the surprise of the kiss and the intensity they had managed to create as he walked back to the south side of the altar. Without thinking about it she had knelt in defeat at the north quadrant. Her mind was swirling. They had not discussed in detail exactly how the battle would be played out. But it had worked perfectly. Owen watched her kneel thinking he had been rougher with her than he had imagined in his preparations. She mentally collected the energies left over from the battle and then returned south of the altar to Owen. She reached out to him with 2 hands. He took them and she smiled and said, “That was perfect. Shall we build the cone of power?”
He nodded, relieved that she seemed ok. They sat down across from each other on large pillows. Nola put her legs over Owen’s thighs so they could sit close to each other and hold each others palms with their elbows relaxed. Owen wasn’t sure he was going to be able to concentrate on building the cone of power Nola had in mind.
Nola sighed and closed her eyes began. “Breath in and feel your connection to the earth… Feel your connection to the Spirits of the Elementals and Nature…. Feel the energy of the earth come up from the ground into your root chakra…. Breathe in and see the energy as strong and vibrant and red.” And she paused as she began to pull the earth’s energy into her and join it with the energy she had collected from the battle. “Feel this strong red energy pulse in you and then send it out from your right hand into the left hand of you partner.” And she gently sent her energy to Owen and could feel his palm get warm. She felt him tighten and then she said, “Breathe, join the energy you receive to yours and send it out from your right had into the left hand of your partner.” And she felt the surge of energy from Owen and breathed in and felt it flow into her before she sent it back to him saying, “Feel the energy flow between you and your partner… Feel it circle around from your right hand… and then receive in your left… Feel it pulse and see the vibrant red color swirl between you and your partner…”
And she could feel the energy move and Owen relax slightly. “Feel the red earth power surge and see the energy change from red to orange as you move it to just below your navel. Move this orange energy out of your right hand” and she felt and saw the color change and pushed it to Owen, “and into the left hand of your partner.” And she felt the energy flow from him. “Swirl the orange energy gently but firmly between you and your partner.” She felt the energy stabilize and it moved between them three times and on the third said, “Feel the energy move up to your solar plexus” and she raised their hands slightly. “See the energy change from orange to yellow as it moves to your solar plexus. Continue to swirl this energy from your right hand into the left hand of your partner.” And as she breathed she felt their breath entrain and the power build. “Swirl this energy up from your solar plexus to your heart chakra and see it turn green. Send this loving heart energy back to your partner.” And she waited as she had before for the energy to cycle between them 3 times before she said, “Feel the energy move up to your throat charka as it turns blue…. Now move this energy to your forehead and see it turn deep indigo… and cycle it to your partner and she raised their hands slightly again and they leaned toward each other without thinking about it bringing their foreheads closer together as the energy built. “Move the energy from you to just above your head and watch as it turns violet. Hold this swirl of violet energy above you and your partner as you prepare to release it to the universe to be used to heal and protect the earth and the gifts of nature… one… clean violet energy will heal and protect… two…” and she lifted their hands about her head as she said, “three.” And she felt the energy shoot away from them her eyes were still closed as she followed the flow of the energy.
Owen had pushed the energy hard and opened his eyes. He pulled their hands down and she opened eyes. He said, “Wow. That was amazing.”
She smiled and said, “Not bad for your first time. Now breathe in” and he did as she did, “and place your palms on the ground.” And he did as she did. “and send any residual energy back to the earth.” And she closed her eyes and reached out for any residual energy but found very little after Owen’s powerful push to the universe. She breathed in and out and listened for him to do the same and closed her eyes to search for any residual energy in her and connected with the earth and released it and relaxed.
Owen pulled her close so he could kiss her. And she enjoyed it thinking that was one way to ground any remaining energy. His kiss started gentle and warm but when he realized she wasn’t resisting it became more insistent. And time stopped. She didn’t think, she just responded, put her arms around him, snuggled closer and since she was already practically sitting in his lap, wrapped her legs around him. Owen took over completely. He kissed her thoroughly and left her head spinning. He moved his kisses down her neck and to her breasts. He moved her on to her back on the floor and covered her with his body and more kisses. She reached for his penis and covered its wet tip with her palm and slitted her eyes as she moved her palm over it in a way she knew he liked. She moved under him, her neck stretching, her back arching as she slid her sex closer to his. Her hair was a wild mane around her face. And it wasn’t the first time he had thought that she moved like a feline. She moaned lightly and nibbled his earlobe. Owen moved to enter her and then neither one of them thought anymore.
She had blessed the cakes and wine. She passed the plate with cookies on them to Owen, “Here, eat. It will help you ground more completely.” He took a cookie and she took one as well and then she took a sip of wine and passed it to him. He took a sip, finished his cookie and she lifted the plate so he would take another. “Where did you learn to do that?”
She smiled sensually, “That, being the chakra cone of power?”
“Yes, woman. That.”
And then she answered precisely, “It was actually something I learned from my first Wiccan teacher. I was very impressed by her ability to get a room full of novices to pull power from the earth and move it around. I felt the energy. I was still very new and assessing everything from a scientific distance but the energy in the exercise was real.”
“It sure was. I wasn’t convinced that I could do it. But then I started to feel the energy flow between us and it became easier and easier.”
“Yes and you definitely gave it an impressive final push. I think it shot straight to the astral.”
He smiled, “You’re just teasing me.”
“No. No, I’m not teasing you. I’m serious. You pushed the energy we built in the cone farther than I’ve been able to do on my own.”
“Well, I did try.”
“When I felt around for residual energy and there was very little.” Then she smiled to him and because they were sitting side by side wrapped her arm around his as she said, “Although I’ve never grounded energy quite like we just did.” And she lifted the plate to him again and said, “One more for good measure.” And took a second one herself. They finished the chalice still sitting close to each other, her head on his arm.
She filled the spirit bowl with enough fuel to pick up the circle and said, “I think it’s time to take the altar down. Are you ready?”
He wasn’t. He would be content to stay sitting inside the circle all night long but he knew that wasn’t possible. So he nodded and she stood up and picked up her blade. He stood too and she took down the circle. When she finished putting out the altar candles, he found her in the dark and pulled her close to him and said, “What do I have to do to convince you to stay?”
She wanted to say yes but managed to say, “I… I think it’s best for me to change back into my street clothes.”
He pulled her closer and said with his breath in her ear, “Please.”
He felt her sigh and started to relax. Part of her wanted nothing more than to just give into him and go wherever he wanted to take her. Part of her knew this would be falling off of a cliff. She managed to say more breathlessly than she would have liked, “Student… you are very tempting,” and he started to smile and relax, “but I think it best for me to change back from priestess to teacher in street clothes.” And she slipped from him and quickly made it to the bathroom and closed the door, leaving him stunned and speechless.
Owen stood in front of the Lare Shrine and Papa Eric’s photo and thought, “Pop, I seem to have lost my touch. Why does this woman walk away from me when I want her to stay and I’m pretty sure she wants to stay as well?”
“She’s an amazingly strong willed woman. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like her in my lifetimes.”
Then he heard her say quietly, “Owen….”
He turned to her and realized he had been standing there naked talking to his grandfather.
“Let me change. I’ll be right back. Don’t leave.”
As he changed he thought, “Lifetimes? You actually remember lifetimes.”
“Well son. I hadn’t really thought about it but yes I do.”
He slipped into his clothes and found her in the living room packing up the last of the altar.
“There is a little bit of wine left in the bottle. Shall we share it with your Papa Eric?”
“I think he’d like that.”
She poured the wine in the chalice and set it on the mantle and said apologetically. “Were you 2 talking when I interrupted?”
“Yes, Papa Eric had just mentioned he could remember lifetimes, as in more than one, more than just his last.”
“Oh that’s interesting. Then perhaps our next lesson needs to be on Death and Rebirth.”
“Let’s have it tonight.” he said thinking that this was a way to get her to stay.
She hooked his arm and said, “I wouldn’t be able to do it justice tonight. But we can talk about it next week.”
He turned her to him with his hands on her arms, “Nola, I don’t want you to leave and I don’t want to wait until next Thursday.”
Did he realize power of his draw? Was it intentional or accidental? She smiled at him, “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that spoiled 10 year old face.” Then insisted, giving him a hug to soften what she knew would feel like a rejection, “But, my student, I really think it’s best for me to go now. I’ll see you again next Thursday.”
Nola drove home pleased with the Solstice ritual and irritated that she had ended up having sex with Owen. He was too damn tempting. It was too easy and natural to be with him. If she wasn’t careful she was afraid that she would end up in a million pieces at the bottom of that cliff. Meana whispered. “You are safe with Owen.” and Nola thought, “I wish I could believe that. The last thing I feel right now is safe.”
Owen was pleased with the ritual but not pleased that Nola hadn’t stayed.What was it about that woman?!
Papa Eric just smiled and watched Owen sweat.
He moved to the pool and pulled off his clothes and dove in and lost himself swimming laps. Damn that woman. I know she wants to stay. Damn that woman. 20 minutes later and breathless he crawled out of the pool.
“Feel better son?”
“Not really pop. Nola is the only woman on the planet who has ever turned me down.”
He heard Papa Eric chuckle. “You’ve always waited until you were sure you had them. Most of the time you didn’t even need to ask. And it isn’t as if you didn’t manage to have sex with her. You did.”
He harrumphed before he said, “Well I have to ask with this one. I have to insist with this one and she still doesn’t stay. Am I just getting old and loosing my touch. Is this what I have in store for my future?”
There was the chuckle again.
“Papa Eric… do you really have to laugh at me?”
“Son…. If you put your clothes on and went to any bar you could take home any woman you wanted.”
Owen thought about that and part of him smiled.
“I am not just saying that to make you feel better. I’m saying it because it’s true. Problem as I see it is that it doesn’t look like you want any other woman. So you’d better figure out what to do next.”